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Professor brings street smarts, baseball and psychology to class
Working as a messenger in the Bronx was one of the first ways that Lawrence Levine, now an associate professor of psychology at Quinnipiac University, was exposed to real life psychology.
“You had to develop street smarts or you didn’t survive. With all the traveling I did I had time for a lot of people watching and I loved it. If the job paid more I’d still be doing it today,” Levine said.
Levine’s formal study of psychology began with the need to complete a required course for graduation.
“My first psychology instructor really introduced me to it. I owe him a lot,” Levine said.
When Levine graduated from City College of New York over 45 years ago, the last job he imagined himself having was being a professor.
“For a while I had no plans. I wasn’t even sure about going to college at first,” Levine said.
While in college, Levine spent his free time following baseball and working as a messenger. He was immersed in baseball at a time when there were three major league teams in New York: the Brooklyn Dodgers, the New York Giants and the Yankees. A Giants fan, Levine soon developed a growing disdain towards Yankees fans who gave him a hard time for his “disloyalties” toward the Bronx’s home team.
Levine continued his education at Pennsylvania State University, where he earned his MS and met his wife, Grace Levine, who is a professor of media studies at Quinnipiac. As a graduate student, Lawrence Levine did clinical work at psychiatric hospitals and spent three years working in a prison.
Levine left Pennsylvania in 1964 to continue graduate work at the University of Connecticut. There he discovered another “under-dog baseball team similar to the Giants.”
“I found a group of Boston Red Sox fans that hated the Yankees as much as I did. There’s an old saying: ‘If you can’t be near the girl you love, love the girl you’re near,’ and it stuck with me when I was introduced to the Red Sox,” Levine said.
Four years after moving to Connecticut, Levine finished his work at UCONN and followed his wife to Quinnipiac.
“I found a temporary job opening in the psychology department. It wasn’t in my long term plans to stay,” Levine said.
While Quinnipiac has grown and changed, Levine said. “It’s still a great place to teach. I have the opportunity to introduce people to things they haven’t heard about.” He said that is one reason he enjoys teaching the Introduction to Psychology course. Levine also has other interests in the wide field of psychology.
Covering the walls of Levine’s office are the recognitions and honors awarded to him throughout his 39 years at Quinnipiac. He received the 1998 Faculty of the Year Award and the Student Government award for Professor of the Year in 1983-84 and in 1991-92.
“I like to say I’ve got one for every decade,” Levine joked. “It’s always nice to be recognized.”
Levine is also a member of the Society for American Baseball Research and continues to be intrigued by the role of baseball in American culture. Levine created a course on the history and development of baseball.
Following his team’s win in last year’s World Series Levine is more motivated than ever to cheer his underdog Red Sox to another World Series win.
“When you get to be a certain age you stop looking into mirrors. I love what I do. The students make me feel young, like time is standing still,” Levine said.